COMMERCE 4037 - Research Methodology (H)
North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017
General Course Information
Course Code COMMERCE 4037 Course Research Methodology (H) Coordinating Unit Business School Term Semester 1 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 36 hours Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N Prerequisites At least 2 courses at specialisation level Assumed Knowledge At least 2 courses within a specialisation Course Description This course is designed for students to fulfil the following learning objectives: Understand the philosophies, concepts and elements of designing a research inquiry; Appreciate alternative approaches to research in commerce and the social sciences, with emphasis on deductive empirical research; Have knowledge of methods of collecting, measuring and in a broad structural sense, analysing, quantitative and qualitative data; Be familiar with designing and administering field surveys, laboratory experiments, case study, archival analysis and action-based approaches to research.
Topics covered in this will include: Science, research and theory; The research process and the research proposal; Deductive empirical research; Constructs, variables, hypotheses and empirical schema; Deductive empirical research: measurement and sampling; Inductive qualitative research: Design issues, concept formulation, methods of analysis; Field surveys and questionnaires; Experimental designs; Observational studies: case studies and interviews; Non-reactive research: content analysis and secondary data mining; Other research methods: Historical-comparative research, action research; Presentation of a research proposal. Students will engage in interactive discussion of set questions and presentations of reviews of methodologies in selected research articles. A full research proposal for their dissertation will be presented at an academic staff seminar; students will use feedback from this seminar in the final write-up of their proposal.
Course Coordinator: Dr Peter Sandifordpeter.firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Nexus Tower – Room 10.28, 10 Pulteney Street
Telephone: 8313 2017 (office)
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.Friday 1:00-4:00 pm
Course Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, successful candidates will be able to:
1. apply methodological theory to critically evaluate existing research in business and related research.
2. differentiate between alternative research methodologies, philosophies and strategies in business oriented research and identify their limitations and implications.
3. explore relevant ethical issues and apply (systematise, defend, recommend and implement) ethical principles to the conduct of scholarly research.
4. plan, design and conduct a scholarly research project.
5. reflect critically and transparently on their own research preferences, philosophy and ideology when evaluating existing research and conducting their own investigations.
6. engage in scholarly discussion and debate within the academic community in the spirit of collegiality.
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
Clough, P. & Nutbrown, C. (2012) A Student's Guide to Methodology, 3rd Edition, London: Sage.
There are a large number of research methods texts in business and management (some below). However, there are few specialist accessible and critical methodology texts in our field. This text, though more focused on education, explores methodological issues that are relevant in any sort of social research and, as such, it provides a particularly useful introductory framework for this course. This also reinforces the necessarily inter-disciplinary nature of business research, within the even wider field of social research
(business is, after all, a wholly social activity), so candidates are encouraged to read widely across the diverse types of social research during (and after) their program of studies.Weekly readings (specified later) will seek to apply the key ideas introduced here into a more business oriented context.
This Text can be accessed online through the library; simply search the title in the library catalogue and log in using your normal credentials. The bibliographic details of the other (minimum) sources included in the learning activities summary (below) are:
Hatch, MJ. & Cunliffe, AL. (2013) Organization Theory, 3rd Ed, Oxford University Press (Chapter 2, ‘the history of organization theory’, pp.25-60).
Kolakowski, L. (1993) An overall view of positivism, in Hammersley, M. (ed.) (1993) Social Research: Philosophy, Politics and Practice,pp.1-8, London: Sage.
Le Voi, M. (2002) Responsibilities, Rights and Ethics, in Potter, S. (ed) (2002) Doing Postgraduate Research, pp153-164., London: Sage.
Lipscomb, M. (2012). Abductive reasoning and qualitative research. Nursing Philosophy, 13(4), 244-256.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2015) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (Updated May 2015), accessed 29-01-2016 from: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e72_national_statement_may_2015_150514_a.pdf
Ransome, Paul (2013) Ethics and Values in Social Research, Basingstoke: Palgrave (chapter 4, ‘the values of the researcher and evaluation research’, pp74-101).
Recommended ResourcesThere are many student texts and other scholarly works on research methodology, research philosophy, research ethics and research methods/techniques. As explained above, candidates are also expected to draw from published research. Various other readings will
be recommended during the course, though candidates are expected, increasingly, to discover, discuss and evaluate sources for themselves during the course.
This reading should include, but not be limited to refereed journal articles and monographs in their disciplinary field. Such sources may be methodological in nature, but it is also important to read empirical, review and conceptual/theoretical work through a methodological lens in order to better understand the philosophical and methodological influences of authors, thus contributing to a more critical approach to reading and ‘doing’ scholarly research.
The course utilises MyUni as a communication tool and as the main means for coursework submission and
feedback provision. Students should be actively scanning the MyUni course
webpage regularly for course updates and additional information.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThis is an intense and interactive course; research methodology is underpinned by a variety of theories of human existence
and knowledge. The subject itself is controversial and complex and cannot be
effectively ‘taught’ or ‘learnt’ in traditional lecture sessions. Much of the
learning experience is based on scholarly discussion and debate in the
classroom environment; this requires all participants to develop an awareness
and openness towards alternative ways of thinking and research paradigms. It is
not necessary to agree with each other, but it IS necessary to demonstrate
scholarly respect for other ways of doing research.
In order to perform well in this course,
students must have a strong command of the relevant research theories and
concepts covered in class and successfully apply them in their assessment and
project. Therefore, students are expected to have reviewed the topic to be
discussed every week and be fully prepared. In addition, it is essential for
participants to engage in seminar discussions in an informed way. The
communication skills developed in seminars by regularly and actively
participating in discussions are considered to be most important by the School
and are highly regarded by employers and professional bodies.
Although face-to-face classes will vary in
approach. After week one, a typical class will normally involve most of the
Weekly guided preparation (activities and/or
reading). This will include readings suggested by the tutor and a weekly seminar
reading. Weekly preparation may also include more practical activities
(especially for the seminar).
Each week, every candidate is required to
search for, find and analyse a relevant additional reading and come to class
prepared to introduce the reading to coursemates. This reading should be a
scholarly piece of work (such as a research article or an edited chapter/conference
paper or monograph) relevant to the week’s topic. This preparation should,
whenever possible, focus on the candidate’s own research.
Lecturer introduction to the topic (normally
including key discussion questions).
Group discussion of guided readings.
Individual sharing of additional
Seminar (tutor/participant led).
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that, for this course, you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours for private study (i.e., the study time outside of your regular classes). Students are required to attend all class sessions.
Learning Activities SummaryCourse Schedule:
Theme 1: Theorising knowledge and research
1. A General Introduction to the Course & to Research Methodology.
2. Research Philosophy in historical context. Philosophy; epistemology; methodology etc.
3 Research Philosophy into the 21st century.
4. Philosophical questions; methodological ‘answers’: Deductive reasoning; inductive data; inductive holism; abduction etc.
Theme 2: Researcher values and ethics
5. Defining and theorising Ethics for Research.
6. Formalising Ethics for researchers; ethics and risk management
7. Researcher values; the value of research. Evaluation research; evaluation of research etc.
Theme 3 Designing, Planning, Doing and Communicating research
8. The role of the literature: conceptual frameworks and contribution
9. Research design: problem, aim, objective, question or hypothesis
10. Data issues: collection, analysis and interpretation
11. Communicating research: Proposals; Dissemination
12. Proposal Presentations
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Assessment Task Weighting Learning Outcome Essay 10% 1,5 Seminar presentation 20% 5,6 Participation 10% 1,6 Research Proposal Presentation 20% 4,6 Research Proposal 40% 2,3,4 Total 100%
Assessment Related Requirements
In order to pass this course, students must achieve at least 50% overall, and achieve a passing mark of, at least, 50% for their final research proposal.
The assessment components are as follows:
Individual essay (10%):
You should prepare an essay exploring your initial research plans. You have already
considered a broad area of interest to pursue with your thesis research
(outlined in your application proposal). This essay requires you to develop
your original proposal and introduce your topic area and research
questions/problem in relation to the literature. This essay requires you to
provide an overview of your research plans concisely, briefly positioning your
research within the relevant disciplinary literature and outlining your chosen
methodological approach; you should carefully justify this approach, drawing
from the literature on social research, with a particular focus on the specific
context of business, management and/or marketing.
Essay assessment criteria:
1. Positioning of research (question, problem, hypothesis etc) within the
existing disciplinary literature.
2. Selection and critical evaluation of methodological theory
3. Quality and relevance of support material (up to a MAXIMUM of 10 references)
4. Strength of argument (to explain and justify methodological approach)
5. Grammar, structure and presentation.
You should submit the essay on myuni by the submission deadline.
Seminar Presentation (20%)
Each candidate will prepare, organise and deliver a relevant seminar
based on the weekly topic areas (specified above). These seminars are designed
to complement the lecturer-led learning sessions in a particular and specific
aspect of the, more general topic area. This gives the class an opportunity to
explore a more focused issue/question in rather more depth. This will also give
the candidate leading the seminar to explore an issue of particular interest
and/or relevance to their own research work. There is considerable flexibility
in the seminar title/focus, although candidates are recommended to discuss
their initial ideas with the course coordinator in advance to ensure their
plans are appropriate. Early seminars will be facilitated by the course
coordinator, providing examples to guide you towards effective facilitation.
Seminar assessment criteria:
1. Preparation and communication of other participants’ preparation requirements
2. Quality of references utilised
3. Critical analysis or relevant theory
4. Cohesion of seminar (theory application , activity and facilitated discussion)
All candidates are required to prepare carefully and participate in
all the learning sessions; attendance alone is insufficient. You are expected
to draw from your preparation and wider reading during discussions and
volunteer constructive, critical and supportive questions, answers and
suggestions during formal and informal learning sessions (eg presentations
and/or classmate enquiries/reflections.
Your participation in classroom settings will be assessed by the
course coordinator based on the level and quality of your contribution to
discussions and activities throughout the course.
Participation assessment criteria:
1. Contribution to discussion
2. Participation in learning activities
3. Evidence of thorough preparation (guided and independent)
Research Proposal Presentation (25%):
All participants are required to prepare and deliver a short presentation
of their research proposal to the school at the end of 1st semester. This is
scheduled to take place during the last week of formal classes.
The main purpose is to obtain valuable feedback and suggestions for
improvements to your research design from more experienced researchers. The
presentations will be relatively short so it is essential for candidates to
prepare well (in particular, you should avoid ‘death by overhead’ – keeping
visual aids few, , informative, clear and uncluttered); it is a good idea to
give a short introduction, outlining your research aim and rationale; a crisp
overview of the key literature (ideally showing how your plans ‘fit’ into it; a
critical introduction to your methodological approach; clear and specific
methods/techniques, with particular attention to planned sampling strategy,
data collection and data analysis/interpretation; and, of course, ethical
issues and research limitations/delimitations. You will be required to address
audience questions at the same time as receiving their feedback/comments. It is
a good idea to solicit feedback to particular issues/challenges/questions that
have arisen during your preparation – do make good use of your more experienced
Assessment Criteria for Presentation :
1. Critique and appropriateness of content (literature, research aim, methodology, methods etc)
2. Quality of presentation (clarity, use of appropriate visual aids
3. Quality of discussion/questions generated and answered
Research Proposal (45%):
The written proposal is the culmination of your work in this course and
provides the basis for your study and the resulting thesis. This document will
be assessed on:
1. Adequate assessment of the literature
2. Clear identification and justification of research problem
3. Clear identification of underpinning theoretical or conceptual framework
4. Justification of proposed methodology within an appropriate philosophical and ethical framework
5. Proposed data collection and analysis
6. Quality of written presentation (referencing, grammar, punctuation and
You should submit your proposal on myuni within the submission deadline.
All written assignments must be submitted on myuni
through the relevant link, preferably each should be submitted as a single word
Extensions to the due date of written assessments
may be granted under special circumstances. An extension request based on
illness or on exceptional personal circumstances must include the
"Supporting Statement / Certification Form" that is on p. 4 of the
replacement and additional Assessment application available at:
Students applying for an extension based on medical
reasons must visit their medical practitioner, with the approved University
form, and have the medical practitioner complete it. A normal doctor's certificate will not be
Please note that all requests for extensions should
be directed in writing to the Lecturer-in charge no later than 48 hours before the due date. Extension requests
after this time will only be granted for exceptional circumstances. This does
not include poor time management or poor file management.
All assignments are to be lodged at, or prior to,
the due date and time. A late assignment
where no extension has been granted will be penalised by a reduction of 5% of the mark given for each day, or
part of a day, that it is late.
Assessment marks will be
provided on the course myuni site. Students
are encouraged to check their marks and notify their tutor and the Course
Coordinator of any discrepancies.
Presentation of Assignments
Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
All individual assignments must be attached to an
Assignment Cover Sheet that must be signed and dated by the student before
submission. Lecturers will withhold
students’ results until such time as the student has signed the Assignment
not submit work for an assignment that has previously been submitted for
this course or any other course.
can refuse to accept assignments that do not have a signed acknowledgement of
the University’s Policy on Plagiarism: www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/230/
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M11 (Honours Mark Scheme) Grade Grade reflects following criteria for allocation of grade Reported on Official Transcript Fail A mark between 1-49 F Third Class A mark between 50-59 3 Second Class Div B A mark between 60-69 2B Second Class Div A A mark between 70-79 2A First Class A mark between 80-100 1 Result Pending An interim result RP Continuing Continuing CN
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
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